Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Newsflash: it's all Whitey's fault? Who'd have thunk?

This is a book review from the Austrian newspaper Die Presse.
The arabist Thomas Bauer believes that it was the influence of the West in the wake of colonialism that first made Islam intolerant and describes this in his 450-page book.

Today's Islam is western – that is how one of the central theses of the book of Islam expert and arabist Thomas Bauer can be described. "The Culture of Ambiguity" is a 450-page book that brings out the ambiguity, that is the equivocalness, of the Islamic past.

The term ambiguity describes the ability of a culture to to accept various "truths" alongside one another. It is exactly this ability that was a special characteristic of Islamic culture from the 8th to the 19th centuries. This is illustrated with detailed examples from literature, lyrics, theology and sexual morality. So today's "hostility to homosexuality" is said to be "Victorian" and not "truly Islamic"; even sober sex manuals or classical lyrics with sizzling homo-eroticism only first became "unIslamic" in the wake of the imperialist challenge.

Whether now liberal or islamist approaches; since the 19th century, Islam has become a visibly westernised form of the original religion. A return to the original distinctive feature of Islam, the tolerance of ambiguity, is therefore appropriate in his view. And so, Bauer concludes, in contrast to the substance of the debate on Islam in Europe, Islam does not need an Enlightenment, but a '68 movement.
Source: Die Presse




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